Two smart marketing people resurrect some old films starring cowboy Smoky Callaway and put them on television. The films are a big hit and the star is in demand. Unfortunately no one can ... See full summary »
Two smart marketing people resurrect some old films starring cowboy Smoky Callaway and put them on television. The films are a big hit and the star is in demand. Unfortunately no one can find him. When a lookalike sends in a photo, the marketing team hires him to impersonate Callaway. Things get sticky when the real Callaway eventually shows up. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Consider the time this film came out. It is one of the first feature films about the cinema's new rival, television. More specifically it is based on the renaissance of Hopalong Cassidy as an early television star.
This film takes me back to when I was a lad in the early days of television when there was a need for programming. The first films that were shown on early television were grade B product from the studios which were not about to be re-released for the big screen. And of course those B westerns were in plentiful supply. In fact I have a theory that John Wayne's rapid rise to number one at the box office may have been in large part to the showing of his pre-Stagecoach westerns giving him valuable publicity for the A product he was currently working on.
But the guy who had the biggest benefit was William Boyd who made his last Hopalong Cassidy picture in 1948. He had scraped together every bit of cash he could to buy all the rights to the Hopalong Cassidy films and character from producer Harry Sherman and author Clarence Mulford.
So when those Cassidy films became a big hit on early television Boyd's career revived and he became a tycoon with all the Hoppy merchandise. And the craze was big, the film accurately depicts the merchandising bonanza that Hoppy was in real life and Smokey Callaway in this film.
Like the Cassidy films in real life, the old films of B picture western star Smokey Callaway become a big hit on TV. They'd like to make more of them, but where's Smokey. TV programmers Fred MacMurray and Dorothy McGuire would sure like to find him. Smokey's just dropped off the planet. MacMurray and McGuire dispatch former agent Jesse White to locate Callaway who was quite a boozer back in the day and nothing like his screen image.
In the meantime they locate a cowboy from Colorado who is a Callaway doppelganger. Howard Keel plays both parts and plays them well. The two scheming TV programmers hire Keel on to impersonate his lookalike. But they get quite a bit more than they bargain for.
Callaway Went Thataway is an enjoyable film about a forgotten era in our social history. Cowboys don't have quite the image they once did in America and I'm not sure how today's audience relates to a film about early television which we pretty much take for granted. Still it's a piece of nostalgia for me.
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